Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The Internet Sees All (Writing Update 4.8.14)

Sometimes (when I remember) I play Rejectomancy over at the Absolute Write forums. This consists of posting the name of the market from which I received my latest rejection and how many days it took to get a response. On occasion I post an additional observation on something the editor said.

Now first of all, let me talk about rejections. There is a school of thought that says you never talk about anything but acceptances in public. There are a couple of reasons for this. 1. You avoid looking like your work isn't selling. (Even if it isn't.) 2. You avoid the appearance (and temptation) of a "sour grapes" attitude toward editors that have rejected your work.

I totally get that. But I also think it's helpful as a community to pool one's knowledge about a market as much as possible. And part of that pool of knowledge contains details on how long it takes to get a response, if they send out mostly forms, etc.

Today I posted the following over in the W1S1 Rejectomancy thread.

22 day personal from STRAEON. Mr. Blake indicates he is never going to be the right editor to send zombie stories to, no matter how well written.

Aggy, challenge accepted! (Kidding. Sort of.) 

Only a few minutes later I received an email from Mr. Blake gently cautioning me from encouraging folks from sending him zombie stories because it would be a waste of time (both theirs and his).

Now I must make two things very clear.
1. I am extremely stubborn. When anyone tells me that something is overdone/boring/too much of a fad to be saleable, I immediately add that to my list of things to write. (I have a short vampire unromance on submission right now that was - in part - a response to all the Twilight hatred and the erroneous conclusion drawn that vampire fiction (especially contemporary vampire fiction) was a has-been.) So, when an editor tells me that they don't like X, I determine to work harder to redefine whatever X may be.
2. If an editor tells me not to send them a particular type of thing, I know better than to waste my time doing that. (I'm not talking about "This will be a hard sell for us." stuff. Almost every market has a list of X, Y, and Z that they feel are going to be difficult to win them over. Almost every market also has certain things that are an absolute no. They are not the same thing and submitting stories that fall into the latter category will only make you look like an idiot.)

So, while I am feeling personally challenged to write more, better zombie fiction, I also know not to send it to STRAEON. (And you should too.)

But I have an even bigger point to make here and it is simple: The internet sees all.

This is one reason folks sometimes avoid rejectomancy, because someone from the market you mention might see what you say and be offended. Some folks do rejectomancy but they use numbers or symbols to hide the market's name from search engines. (STR4EON or As!imovs, for instance.) Which is all well and good. If that makes you feel more comfortable, then maybe you should do that.

But it's a better policy to not say things online that will offend potential business partners. Whether you're Tweeting or blogging or posting in forums you should consider that if you want to keep a market from seeing what you're saying, then perhaps you shouldn't be saying it. (I have a secondary rule which runs along the lines of: "If I'm making a reasonable observation about a market and they are offended by it, they are probably not someone I want to work with." Thus far it has not steered me wrong.)

So, there's my helpful advice for the week.

In writing news, I have been chugging away on the Spider-thief novella. It's chugging along steadily. I had thought it would be done by now, quite frankly, but with RL stress and struggles and a series of burgeoning subplots, I'm not done yet. (It's really good though, so I'm pleased. Just not finished yet.)

When I was working on The Steampunk Novel back around Christmas, I had a mantra that I had to make every scene count. That seems to have leaked over into the novella because every sequence has at least one if not three plotlines running through it. No fluff here. (I hope.) 


… M. said...

Along those same lines, that "gentle admonishment" was intended as something along the lines of, "Hey, I know you (or someone who reads it) could totally rock that challenge, but if/when you do, make sure it goes to some of the right markets, okay?"

I'm very difficult to offend (please don't take that as a challenge!), and can usually chalk things up to honest error in expression, or simply being unaware of a preference. For whatever it's worth, I thought your original post was funny, and probably wouldn't have bothered to say anything if I hadn't read it in that spirit.

On the bright side, if an editor happens to notice one of your comments after sending a rejection letter, you could also read that as the editor being favorably aware of your presence. Personal mileage might vary depending on the actual presence and structure of the comment in question, of course.

As a final observation, this is the first time I've seen STR4EON mentioned in such close proximity to As!imovs, so your blog post put a smile on my face.

A.G. Carpenter said...

After I had gotten that email, I was reminded of a particular magazine (whose name escapes me at the moment) that had released an issue that was entirely zombie unicorn stories after one of the editors had made a remark online along the lines of "It's doubtful we'll ever publish a zombie unicorn story." and they were promptly inundated with so many stories about zombie unicorns they found enough good ones to fill a magazine. It was a comment which falls into the "hard sell" category, not the "I'm really not a fan of this subject matter," category. But after your email I did have a moment of unease where I thought my comment about sending zombie stories your way might have implied the former.

Thus, the blog post. I may have overthought the whole thing.